The proposal announced Saturday for a temporary marker to put the Confederate soldier memorial on the Bulloch County Courthouse grounds in historical context is posed directly as a request from the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center to the Bulloch County Historical Society.
But it implies further requests for action by the state government and the Bulloch County Board of Commissioners.
Dr. Alvin Jackson, board president of the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center near Portal, and the Rev. Jane Page, who chairs the center’s marker committee, made the proposal public during Saturday afternoon’s protest rally on the courthouse grounds. During the rally directed against racism and police and vigilante violence, several speakers called the monument a local symbol of white supremacy or oppression.
Jackson, who is turning 70 this year, said he first wondered about the statue as a child in school attending parades.
“After some research, I realized that it was put there as part of the victory of the Lost Cause,” he said.
The proposed temporary marker, displayed Saturday as an even more temporary sign, would state:
“In 1909, this monument was erected at the Bulloch County Courthouse to glorify the ‘lost cause’ of the Confederacy and the Confederate soldiers who fought for it. It was privately funded by Statesboro Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy.
“Located in a prominent public space, its presence bolstered white supremacy and faulty history, suggesting that the cause for the Civil War rested on southern Honor and States Rights rhetoric – instead of its real catalyst – American slavery. This monument and similar ones also were created to intimidate African Americans and limit their full participation in social and political life of their communities. It fostered a culture of segregation by implying that public spaces and public memory belonged to Whites.
“Since state law prohibited local governments from removing Confederate statues, Bulloch County contextualized this monument in 2020. Bulloch County officials and citizens believe that public history can be of service when it challenges us to broaden our sense of boundaries and includes community discussions of the victories and shortcomings of our shared histories.”
Below that text, which was outlined in the shape of a historical marker, the caption on the concept sign Saturday added, “Proposed by the Willow Hill Heritage and Renaissance Center to the Bulloch County Historical Society for a Temporary Marker to be erected adjacent to this monument until state law will allow us to move the statue (and the marker will follow it) or county allow additional markers on the courthouse square, whichever comes first.”
Jackson said this was his “proposal, with discussion.”
A Georgia law signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in 2019 prohibits local governments from moving or altering war memorials on public land, including but not limited to Civil War monuments. Bulloch County commissioners rejected a petition to remove the statue in 2015, and would no longer have the authority.
However, the commissioners are not prohibited from allowing other markers on the courthouse grounds.
A committee of volunteers has also been working on an application to the Equal Justice Initiative for a marker acknowledging lynchings that occurred in Bulloch County.
The Statesboro Herald will be reporting further on this discussion.